College Of New Rochelle Shuts Down Rockaway Operation
After six years and 239 students the College of New Rochelle (School of New Resources) is shutting down its operations in the Rockaway area.
Citing low enrollment as the cause for ending classes in Rockaway, the Dean of the School of New Resources told The Wave that the numbers were constantly working against them.
"We were always under-enrolled," said Dean Elza Dinwiddie-Boyd. "The highest we had was 100 students. Then it started to decline."
From the first classes in the winter of 2004, which had a limit of 50 students, to this summer the Rockaway extension had a total of 239 students.
Some students have joined with 31st District City Council candidate Marquez Claxton to call on CNR to reconsider the closing. "We want to put it in the mind of the president [of CNR] to keep it open," said local resident Katrina Barnes, who transferred from Hunter College in Manhattan to CNR in Rockaway.
In a press release, students Catherine Greene and Sharmain Balverdy talked about the closing.
"The CNR-Far Rockaway extension is a vital asset to the community," said Greene. "Its closing just means further depreciation for the area."
Balverdy, who is thankful for the education CNR has afforded her, pointed out the difficulties for local residents to travel to work, school and finding day care.
"Many of us will now be forced to choose between our continued education, our jobs or our families. We had the genuine gift of knowledge given to us, and then taken away."
Balverdy concluded by saying she hoped CNR "would reconsider their decision to close the extension campus." Barnes said students were told a year ago about the possible closing.
"We tried to write to the president and vice president [of the college] about it," said Barnes.
"We thought they were committed out here," said Barnes. "We didn't know about the business part."
But, as Dinwiddie-Boyd pointed out to The Wave, it is a business and "the students are the customers."
"We wanted Rockaway to work," said the dean. "We really tried to make it work." She added, "You have to enroll enough to break even. You need to finish in the black … There comes a point you have to cut your losses."
Dinwiddie-Boyd said that if 150 to 200 students from the peninsula enroll at the college's Brooklyn campus, the school could consider returning to Rockaway.
CNR's presence in Rockaway began with great fanfare in January 2004, with the backing of the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation (RDRC).
In a January 30, 2004 Wave article, Michael Minott of RDRC said that the CNR Rockaway extension was "ultimately going to be a branch campus [rather than just an extension] for the College of New Rochelle."
The executive director of RDRC, Kevin Alexander, called it disappointing that CNR is pulling out of Rockaway.
"RDRC intended to have a long-term college in the Rockaways with a permanent presence," Alexander told The Wave. He added that he believed the peninsula could "support and sustain" such a facility.
Alexander, who came to RDRC after the college began operating in Rockaway, also said that his understanding was that there were "serious discussions, a verbal agreement, but nothing in writing" for a lease agreement with RDRC.
"We tried to get them to sign a longterm lease, but they declined to sign off on a sub-lease with RDRC," concluded Alexander.
Current Rockaway students will now transfer this fall to the school's Brooklyn campus to complete their education.
Dinwiddie-Boyd pointed out that Rockaway students would have had to take classes at that campus to obtain their diploma, even if the extension on the peninsula remained open.
"To help make the transition easier, we will help with transportation costs to come to the Brooklyn campus for the first semester," said Dinwiddie-Boyd, who added these students must meet with the campus director to apply for the assistance.
The CNR extension began holding classes at the former J.H.S. 198, now the Goldie Maple Academy.
Final classes were held at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church on Beach 19 Street in Far Rockaway on July 22.